Pinky's Ca Phe
Pinky's Ca Phe
53 Clinton St
Toronto, ON M6G 2Y4
Pinky's Ca Phe (nice play on words) is a new Vietnamese BBQ restaurant in Little Italy (College and Clinton St). From the same minds who did OddSeoul and Hanmoto. Be careful not to walk right by as it looks just like somebody's house complete with a fenced gate and all. The place is small but they make good use of the space and they've got a pretty cool bar right in the middle of the joint. The vibe is definitely reminiscent of most of the hip places on College. Very dim lighting and seems to be good for either a date or a get together with friends (no more than 4).
The menu offers Vietnamese fusion cuisine. There are items that are blended in with others, but have a unique look on some of the favorites. The big thing here is the Vietnamese BBQ offerings.
Started the night off with their Tiger's Milk Ceviche. The ceviche (raw fish slightly cooked by acids like limes and lemons and mixed with salsa) was great. The "Tiger's Milk" portion of it was the coconut milk they add to the ceviche. The fish was a bit tough to identify, especially with the dim lighting, but you can tell just from the texture and amid the large amount of avocado. It comes with some thin taro chips, which break very easily so do be careful.
The "So Fly" Rice was meh. There's no meat but there is fish. Or so it says, as I didn't really find any of it. (Wasn't looking overly hard). Lots of veggies and was more like a good stir-fry than fried rice. Rice was wet and starchy, but the combination of all the ingredients led to a pretty good bite. I wouldn't order again.
The Grilled Meat Platter was a compilation of the three meats they had on the menu, Lemongrass Chicken, Pork Jowl, and Beef Short Ribs. This was the real reason for coming out here. The Lemongrass chicken was good. I like the char that was on the skin and the meat was very tender. They also throw on a green onion mixture that looks to help, but I didn't think it helped at all. I would just prefer more grilling.
The pork jowl was super tender and was charred beautifully. Such an underrated cut of meat and though the portion was a bit small, I could definitely just eat a boatload of this with lettuce (making lettuce wraps). The beef short ribs were also incredible. Tender and just such intense grilled flavor. It was easily my favorite item and again, the portion just wasn't enough to be satisfied.
This place is reminiscent of all the bars on College St. The servers here are friendly enough and helped with all the questions we had. The food comes out slow so prepare for a wait. Make sure you come with a group of friends so that you can try a multitude of dishes. For me right now, the place does need some work. The prices are a bit too high while the portions are a bit small.
Ambience: B+ | Service: B | Price: C+ | Food: B-